tv MSNBC News Live MSNBC February 11, 2010 11:00am-12:00pm EST
right now on msnbc live, after the blizzard, cleaning up from the record-breaking snow. it's the order of the day in d.c., philly, baltimore and parts of new jersey. but guess what? there's snow in the south and there's another storm headed to the east. and stop picking on toyota. the governors of four u.s. states are asking for federal officials to give the troubled carmaker a fair shake. we'll have more on that. and testing her injury. she is one of america's
brightest hopes for gold in the winter olympics. lindsey vonn is expected to make a training run today. we'll have a live report on her condition. and today some 50 million people along the eastern seaboard are digging out from that massive winter blizzard, paralyzing some of the largest cities in the northeast. so far, philadelphia, baltimore and washington, d.c., have set new snowfall records. more than a foot of snow is covering parts of jersey, connecticut and also long island. and in the nation's capital, take a look at this. there's close to three feet of snow on the ground. we've got new video coming in. and the federal government is shut down for the fourth straight day. the weather channel's mike seidel is in washington, d.c. >> reporter: tamron, the sun is finally back out here in d.c. this morning. and boy, does it feel good. temperatures in the mid-30s. we're getting some melting on these streets, especially the ones that have been salted and plowed. we can see asphalt here on the north side of the capitol. and you can actual cesee the capitol.
yesterday we had six or seven hours of whiteout conditions and now all the cities in the area, d.c., wilmington, baltimore, philadelphia, their snowiest seasons on record. baltimore just under 80 inches. there could be a little more snow the first of the week. now, the government is shut down for ann unprecedented fourth da in a row. all schools are closed and there's very little foot traffic here around the capitol. as far as the airports go, bwi, dulles are open. reagan will try to get open as soon as possible. they're still digging out over there. many morning flights have already been canceled. weather today, tomorrow looks good. a lot of sunshine. the wind today still an issue. we've had gusts as high as 40 miles an hour. even on a nice day, those winds would cause probably delays at some of the major northeastern airports. meantime, the big dig conditions in the white house. and the capitol. still buried in snow. tamron, back to you. >> mike, thank you. the mayor of washington, d.c., is on the defense after two massive snowstorms in one week, as you know, the nation's
capital still digging out, the mayor is getting complaints from people who want that snow removed. in fact, this morning on msnbc, mayor adrian fenti said they're trying to do things differently and he'll do it differently in the future. >> should we do like buffalo and have an agency committed to snow? probably not. should i as the mayor look and learn from things and beef up a little more, work a little smarter, use private companies a little better? probably going forward. and in new york, it did not officially qualify as a blizzard, but it certainly came close. 10 to 16 inches did fall around new york city. long island and northern new jersey. new york city schools are back open today. and city workers are still trying to clear those streets. here's the weather channel's chris warren. >> reporter: this is the scene here in central park. we have snow on the ground which we didn't have just two days ago. blue sky overhead. this is a much different scene than what we had yesterday. yesterday the snow was just coming down. at times it was near whiteout
conditions. snowfall totals here in central park, ten inches. long island, some spots on the eastern part of the island, close to 16 inches. as far as the city goes, things are returning to normal. we are seeing a lot of people out here still running. a lot of joggers out here. people walking their dogs, something we have not seen much of, tamron, kids, they're back in school today. back to you. >> chris, thank you. and this winter weather, not over. in d.c., forecasters are already predicting more snow beginning monday. and as the northeast still cleaning up, the snow is falling right now in dallas. yes, dallas, texas. several inches of snow expected to fall in a span of 50 to 75 miles on either side of i-20 from dallas through shreveport, louisiana. by tomorrow, the snow is expected to hit parts of georgia and south carolina. ginger zee, nbc meteorologist, is here with more. and i would say go out west, but they're dealing with mudslides there. >> that's right. >> in california. but this storm, another one,
ginger? >> you know, you're just not safe anywhere, are you? no. another storm, yes, but nothing like what we've been seeing. so in the northeast by monday, it would be more like a one to three-inch storm. not a 30-inch storm. so speaking of the storm, though, in dallas, that is going to create some problems. down in texas, seeing a mix if not all snow at this point. heavy rains to the south. we find winter storm warnings. the colors that were reserved for new england yesterday now in the south and center parts of our country. even into jackson, expecting a lot of snow. look at that. remember those colors? that were up here? up to a foot. i think that's overdoing it near dallas. but i think a good six inches is possible. nothing like this. the season totals so far, they look like snow resorts. but that's from this season so far. as i mentioned, there is another storm on the way, but it is not coming until monday. we are clear for now. very windy, as mike mentioned earlier. temperatures in the 30s. so we do have a little break, tamron, here. and again, that next storm does not look anything like what
we've been dealing with. >> not the same but it just adds to what's already there. >> a little bit. >> ginger, thank you greatly. and now to some news about the economy and jobs. in fact, there is some positive news today on the jobs front. in the past hour the labor department reported the number of newly laid-off workers seeking first-time jobless claims dropped by 43,000 last week to 440,000. the drop was much bigger than economists apparently had expected. and on tehran and right now hundreds of thousands of government supporters have gathered to mark the anniversary of the 1979 islamic revolution. ali is one of the few western journalists reporting from iran. and the only u.s. network correspondent allowed. he was invited to cover today's anniversary by the government but was restricted to observing the events in freedom square. ali, tell us a little more about what you've been able to see today. >> that's right, tamron. our movements were restricted. we were penned into an area to watch the president make his
speech. we weren't even allowed to talk to the pro-government supporters there. president ahmadinejad used the speech today as a stage to announce that iran had become a nuclear state and that it had now enriched uranium to 20%. just to give you a sum-up of some of the events outside of the event we weren't allowed to attend, there were some protests around the city about a mile from freedom square. some anti-government protesters had gathered, chanting anti-government slogans. but there was a huge security presence throughout the city today. also opposition leader was attacked. former president was attacked. we're also getting a report in now saying that his wife, an outspoken member of the opposition, was attacked. she was beaten about the head and body, and her supporters formed a human chain around her and whisked her to safety.
so although we didn't see those kinds of demonstrations that we've seen in the past, there are still tensions in the city. tamron? >> ali aruzi live in tehran, thaw. and protesters are showing up at the rally in tehran. police clashed with hundreds in several loques in the city. witnesses say authorities fired paintballs and protesters started chanting slogans against the government. witnesses also say there were no serious or apparent injuries. now, reports today that iranian government is also cracking down on internet usage by permanently suspending google gmail service in that country and also preventing internet use. and south africans are celebrating 20 years since nelson mandela took his first steps to freedom. triggering the fall of apartheid. thousands gathered near capetown for commemorations today at the prison where mr. mandela spent 27 years of his life behind bars. and just four years after his release in 1990, south africans held their first all-race elections, making mandela the
country's first black president. the 91-year-old will make a very rare public appearance today to hear south africa's state of the nation address. and rare support for toyota. the governors of four states all with toyota plants have written a letter to congressional representatives who will lead hearings about toyota's massive global recall. in the letter the governors of kentucky, indiana, mississippi and alabama call for, quote, a responsible and fair response from the federal government. they also question what they call the federal government's obvious conflict of interest because of its huge financial stake in some of toyota's competitors. referring to the government bailout of gm and chrysler. and one of those who signed this letter is with us now. governor steve brashear of kentucky, democratic governor. thanks for joining me. >> thanks, tamron. >> i understand you were one of the first to -- this was your idea to put this letter together. it all kind of originated, i'm told, with you. >> well, we were very concerned
and are we concerned about toyota getting fair treatment here, tamron. and i contacted some of the other governors that have toyota facilities in their state. they shared those concerns, and so we worked together to pull this letter together. you know, safety is our top priority like it is for everybody in this country. but fairness is also a priority of ours. and when you've got a federal government who is a big investor in some of the competitors of toyota, i think that they need to bend over backwards to make sure that they do treat toyota fairly. >> let me ask you, do you think toyota's been fair with consumers? the national highway transportation safety administration says that they've been investigating acceleration problems since 2003. the president/ceo of toyota now admitting to quality control issues. i just interviewed a guy in texas who believes that his wife died as a result of a problem with a toyota vehicle. that's not been proven, but he is suing. was toyota fair to the consumer? >> tamron, i think that toyota
has handled this recall situation like other manufacturers have handled them over the years. they have developed the information. and i think all of that will come out. the thing that we have to keep in mind is that toyota not only took the step that other manufacturers take, and that is to recall the vehicles, they also took an unprecedented step in voluntarily closed down production of those vehicles until they found out the problem, they found out the cure for the problem, and they got it out there. >> i don't think i got an answer from you about the 2003 report. >> they have put safety -- they have put safety above the profits of their company, and i think that says something very good about them. >> but i don't think you answered the question about the reports from the national highway transportation safety saying that these problems date back to 2003. this is 2010. >> a lot of these reports on every kind of recall that you have go back years. and they may get one situation.
they may get ten. but you're talking about millions and millions of vehicles. you know, it's fine to look in and find out when somebody knew something and where they knew it and all that kind of stuff. we just want to make sure that a company that is as good a corporate citizen in this country and as an american a company as any of the other manufacturers here gets treated fairly. you know, there were 16 million vehicles recalled last year, tamron, and not a one of those recalls created the frenzy, the feeding frenzy, that's going on right now. we just want to make sure they're treated fairly. if they've done something that they shouldn't have done, fine. you know, we've got a great corporate citizen that have kept their employees at work for the last two years during this recession like nobody else has and had them out in the community doing public service. and they're just a great corporate citizen, and he ought to be supportive of them. >> quickly, let me ask you, i know toyota employs 172,000 americans in those plants. but, again, the ceo admits to things going wrong there, that
they made great mistakes, that they plan to correct in the future. do you acknowledge that toyota made some mistakes here? >> i'm sure they did. i mean, other manufacturers have, too. as i mentioned, last year alone, 60 -- i've forgotten, 16 million vehicles were recalled from a lot of different companies. so yes, they make mistakes. but the way toyota's handled this, i think, is very admirable. >> thank you so much, governor, i appreciate you joining me. we'll see what happens in these hearings as we move ahead. i greatly appreciate your time. thank you, sir. and president obama predicts thousands of new jobs in the monthsxd ahead. but unemployment will remain high. we'll go to the white house to get a live report on this one. plus, u.s. ski star lindsey vonn testing out that leg injury to see if she can compete in the olympics. we've got the latest on her situation from vancouver. and big news in the entertainment world. "30 rock" star alec baldwin hospitalized overnight.
his spokesperson says it was a misunderstanding. we'll get the scoop coming up. ♪ ♪ [ male announcer ] you've wanted to quit smoking so many times, but those days came and went and the cigarettes remained. ♪ today's a new day. talk to your doctor about prescription treatment options and support. and this time, make it your time. thanks for your help. ♪ contact solution? really? let a walgreens personal gift advisor... help you create the perfect valentine's day.
welcome back. we've got some breaking news. i'm hearing in our control room at msnbc. we've just gotten word that the haitian judge has decided and will recommend that the ten americans detained in haiti on charges of child abduction, that they should be released. the judge has the final authority on this to decide whether they will stay in custody or go free. but he's got to apparently, according to the information, send his recommendation to prosecutors who may agree or object. but the judge has the final authority here. and the haitian judge who was in charge of deciding whether the ten u.s. missionaries should face a trial will recommend that
they be released. this is coming into us just now. we're working to get more information here. but, again, the judge, according to the associated press, has the final authority to decide. he's met with the ten americans, interviewing them in two separate groups to get their side of the story here. so we will hopefully get more information from our correspondents in haiti. but the big breaking news, the judge is recommending that these ten american missionaries who say that it was a misunderstanding. they had transported 33 haitian children to the dominican republic. that's what they wanted to do. turned out some of the children were not, in fact, orphans and that the paperwork, the process had not been complete. they were charged and now we're getting word they could, in fact, be released. we told you a few minutes ago that first-time jobless claims dropped more than expected last week. also a new white house report forecasts slow job growth this year. it is part of the president's annual economic report to congress. and it predicts the economy is likely to add an average -- an
average -- of 95,000 more jobs each month. it also predicts, though, that the unemployment rate will remain high. nbc's mike viquiera joins us to explain the contrast in the information here. also, how does this factor into the jobs bill that the president wants on his table? >> reporter: good morning, tamron. you really do have to put these things in perspective. first of all, there's sort of a perfunctory nature to this economic report of the president. it's got to come out within a certain number of days after the president submits his budget, and he did do that. what's interesting are the underlying economic assumptions that you point out. they say that 95,000 jobs on average this year will be added to the economy. to put that in perspective, last month, the last time the unemployment figures came out, the economy was losing, i think it was 17,000 jobs. but you look back in the depths of the recession, and this country was losing 700,000 jobs a month. most recent figures, 8.4 million jobs total were lost during the recession, continue to be lost,
as a matter of fact. 95,000 jobs. it's positive, but it's not going to be something that everybody's going to be jumping up and down about. the unemployment rate, 9.8%. the white house continues to predict. that was also within the budget and also continuing in this latest report, 8.4 million jobs lost in the recession. they predict that the growth rate this year is going to be around 2.5% for the balance of the year. so the economy coming out of the recession according to this report by the president's top economic advisers, tamron. >> mike, live for us in front of the white house, thank you very much. we'd like to know what you think. what do you think the situation will be by the end of the year regarding the unemployment rate? will the number go up? will it go down? let me know. twitter.msnbc.com. obviously, i'm sure you're hoping that folks are able to get back to work. but what do you think? and shut down for days. the storm that grounded thousands of flights, well, it's having a ripple effect across our country. we'll have more on if your next airline ticket will cost you more because of the storm.
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welcome back. in today's "tech watch," get ready for the 3-d movie experience at your home. panasonic and sony are planning to introduce 3-d tvs later this year. panasonic will begin selling its 50-inch version in april for $4800. sony will release theirs by the end of the year. there's stories out there this morning that make us say no way. we've seen our share of dumb criminals, but this next guy may give a little bit of credit for thinking out of the box. here's his mug shot. mario dwayne porter was pulled over for playing his car stereo too loud. according to the arrest report, when the canine unit was called in to check for drugs, porter yelled "sit." well, it interrupted the canine from doing his job not once but
twice. all he did was say "sit," and the dog did. it turns out there were drugs inside the vehicle, and he was charged. and staying on that animal theme, look at this. take a gander. it's caught on tape. an attack. this is near tallahassee, florida, just after catching the fish, a goose pounced this fisherman. his name is drew gregory. actually, knocking him in the water. the 30-year-old professional fisherman, if you can call yourself that after getting taken out by a goose, well, he was not hurt in the attack there. but look at that. vicious animal. well, now to vancouver and the winter olympic games where one of america's brightest hopes for gold faces a critical run today even before the games begin. skier lindsey vonn will be putting her injured shin to the test when she hits the slopes for her first practice run. she was injured after taking a fall during training last week in europe. >> i have not skied since my injury a week ago.
i don't know how it's going to feel. i've tried just putting my boot on in my hotel room. and i can tell you it's excruciatingly painful. >> nbc's michelle franzen in vancouver. what's the buzz there on lindsey? >> reporter: certainly coming off of that presser, all the talk is about lindsey vonn and whether or not she'll be able to do that run today. it's the first of three training runs leading up to the first event on sunday that she's expected to compete in. and that would be the super combined. lindsey vonn, of course, expected and hoping to compete in five alpine events here in vancouver in the whistler area for these olympics. and she's not ruling out that she may have to maybe sit out one of those events just so she can try and make sure that she is healthy enough to compete and have a chance at going for several gold medals or a gold medal or a medal at all. >> we'll see what happens in that test run. thank you very much, michelle. greatly appreciated. and by the way, opening ceremony, well, it's quickly approaching. it is tomorrow, february 12th.
catch all of the winter olympic action here on the networks and stations of nbc. and we're keeping an eye on lindsey vonn. we'll update you as soon as they give us more information after this test run. and at first glance, good news out on the housing market today. we're going to get inside those numbers, though. more on how the nation is trying to recover from the devastating housing market and the downturn with it. plus, what exactly happened to actor alec baldwin? his spokesperson is saying it was a misunderstanding, but he ended up in the hospital. we're going to get the scoop. ♪orn from the map of michigan ♪ ♪ i am carrying this scra of paper ♪ when it's people who do the right thi, they call it being responble. when it's an insurance company, they call it liberty mutual. responsibility. what'sour policy? liberty mutual.
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as you can see this isn't your typical midwestern farm. the reason lies 6000 miles away in japan. where a producer of specialty eggs needed corn for feed grown to precise standards. cargill identified the producer's needs then introduced an illinois farmer to grow the exact corn needed. and developed a system to ship it separately, connecting the farmer with a japanese customer who was very appreciative. this is how cargill works with customers. a few headlines we're watching for you. we're getting word that about 100,000 customers from virginia to new jersey still without power after the latest round of snow moved in through the east coast. but there is some good news. all three new york airports are up and running, have some service, i should say, some service. so you need to call in. and flights are also arriving at dulles airport near washington.
so we'll keep you up to date. also breaking this hour, the haitian judge deciding whether ten u.s. missionaries should face trial on charges of trying -- or child abduction. well, he's now planning to recommend that they all be released. the judge will pass along the recommendation to a prosecutor who may agree or object, but it appears the judge has the final authority, though, to decide whether they stay in custody or go free. and new this morning, the number of u.s. homes facing foreclosure in january surged 15% from the same month last year. meantime, experts say the foreclosure situation could get worse if that is even possible. nbc's diana olick covers the housing market and joins me with more on the numbers. why is it believed things could get worse when you have these programs in place that i thought were supposed to slow down foreclosures? >> there's one word, it's called unemployment. you can't modify someone out of a loan when they don't have an
income to pay that loan in any form. in the numbers we saw today, it was interesting. month to month we actually saw a 10% drop from december to january. and the reason for that is because there are various moratorium in place over the holidays. that is fannie and freddie and a lot of the big banks won't foreclose on you over business. and that gets pushed forward. it was still up year over year. the experts have said we'll continue to see the numbers rise because more and more people are not qualifying for modifications. >> and we know, diana, people are hit hard unemploymentwise across the country. but when we were looking at the rate, certain states were really getting socked. are we still seeing that to be the case? >> yeah. i mean, we always talk about the fab four, which is california, florida, arizona and nevada. yes, those were the big boom states and those were the big bust states, and that's where we see all the foreclosures but they're becoming more widespreads. states like idaho and oregon seeing big jumps in numbers, the states that did not see a huge
rise and fall in prices. so these are xdbased, again, on unemployment. >> and we were just talking, the president is hoping like everyone else, honestly, that we'll see people get back to work. but in this report with mike viquiera that i did a short time ago, they're still expecting the unemployment rate to say high if that is the case. as you pointed out, one plus one equals two here, sadly, when it comes to foreclosures if you have the unemployment rate remain high. >> yeah. if the unemployment rate remains high and you have what's called the jobless recovery, then you're just not going to see that kind of recovery in housing that everybody's hoping for as we get into spring and summer. you also have the additional problem of negative equity. you have one in five homeowners who are what we call under water. that is they owe more on their mortgages than their homes are actually worth. and a lot of those folks are saying, you know what? bad investment, time to walk away. and they're turning in the keys. and that results in another foreclosure. the government and banks are trying to work on programs to put incentives in place for people to stay, but a lot of
folks don't see that that equity is ever going to come back. >> diana, thank you very much. greatly appreciate it. check out die nan aolick's housing blog, realtycheck.cnbc.com. in maryland, it's being called the big dig as people try to clear record snowfall amounts. at baltimore's bwi airport, a record 79.9 inches of snow fell, making it the snowiest winter in history. elaine reyes of wrc, our washington nbc station, joins me live from vienna, virginia, where it looks like at least one street is kind of clear there. >> reporter: oh, my gosh. you know, the sun is out. it's balmy. i had to take clothes off as the morning has progressed. you know, they've been working on the streets since the blizzard ended last night. take a look right here. this is maple avenue downtown vienna. and basically, there's a lot of slush. we also want to point out one other thing. you see because of all the work they've been doing, all these
snow banks on the side of the road have piled up higher and higher as the day has gone on. some parts are as high as the cars that drive by. the problem some drivers are having is as they are pulling out, it's really hard to see. >> we're obviously having some technical difficulties with the reporter's mike there. nothing works when it's cold and a lot of snow. hopefully we'll get more information -- i know we will get more ninformation on the install and dig. and iran's president says his country has produced its first batch of highly enriched uranium. the announcement comes just one day after the u.s. imposed new sanctions on iran. the national guard. and president mahmoud ahmadinejad won't be bullied by the west to stop its nuclear program. at nounsment comes as thousands today are marking the
anniversary of the 1979 revolution that created iran's islamic republic. and that is actually the sanctions are against not the people of iran but the revolutionary guard and its allies. and dramatic security video out of argentina showing the close call when a small van gets stuck on the train tracks ahead of an oncoming train. a passenger on the back of a motorcycle jumped off to push the van out of the way just in time after pushing the van off the tracks, the motorcyclist jumps back narrowly escaping the train itself. and developing news on actor alec baldwin who was taken to a manhattan hospital late last night. a lot of speculation on what's going on with his life. msnbc.com pop culture columnist courtney hazelet joins me now. what happened? >> this is getting a lot of attention. alec baldwin who is in the news not only because he is just a fantastic award-winning actor on "30 rock," he's going to be hosting the oscars in early march, but because also remember, he's had this conflicted relationship with his daughter, that voice mail where
he called her exceedingly nasty names, was heard literally around the world. so last night when news broke that alec baldwin had been taken to the hospital sometime after midnight. and according to law enforcement sources, it was his daughter, ireland, who made the 911 call. a lot of people wondered what was going on. alec's rep issued the following statement. he said this was a misunderstanding on one person's part. alec was quickly released from the hospital. and he is completely fine and will be at work today. so what they're saying is this was nothing. he was in and out of the hospital in one hour. he'll be at work today. the question is why did his daughter feel the need to call 911? there are sources saying he had been threaten to take pills, but i belief this will be all we'll hear from it. if baldwin is smart from a publicity standpoint, and he tends to be when he can control the situation -- >> he can't control the 911 call being released. >> that's correct. if the call is released, we'll be revisiting this again, but he's pretty good about saying if there's a time to apologize, he
tends to apologize. if it's something he wants to keep personal, he will keep it personal. this could be all we hear or once that 911 call comes out, there could be some more. we're also hearing more today about john mayer. we discussed him yesterday. that interview with "playboy" magazine that was reprehensible on most counts where he apologized for it shortly after we got off the air yesterday. >> using the "n" word. >> that's what he apologized for. he didn't apologize for any of the things that he said. >> comparing himself to david duke, the former klan leader. >> right, jessica simpson or insulting other exes juch as jennifer aniston. he wrote on twitter that he was extremely sorry. and yesterday he actually had a concert last night where he sort of broke down a little bit. so it does seem like he's remorseful, but he does this consistently, so it's difficult to take it seriously, i think. also in the news today, nancy kerrigan. she will be reporting from the olympics as a special correspondent for "e.t." and "the insider." nancy kerrigan, as you know, has
been in the news because her father, daniel kerrigan, died recently. that death was ruled a homicide by the coroner. she's not going to be talking about that, though. she's going to be talking about the olympics. it's also been 16 years since that incident with tonya harding that propelled her into the spotlight. not for her ice-skating abilities but because of that scandal that preceded the winter olympics then. >> she's taking on a lot. >> she's taking on a lot and a lot of pressure, so it will be interesting to watch her do this from this vancouver olympics. >> i wish her the best. i'll see you at 2:00 p.m. eastern time for "the scoop." maybe john mayer will have this time an apology not just for saying the "n" word. >> i hope he bes quiet, john mayer, just play your guitar. probably not. >> thank you very much. for the latest entertainment news, you can logon to scoop.msnbc.com. if it is the scoop, courtney's got it. and developing now, british fashion designer alexander mcqueen has been found dead in his london home. a spokesperson says the 40-year-old's body was found this morning. the spokesperson adds that she
has no information on the circumstances surrounding mcqueen's death. police say an autopsy will be performed. but as of right now, the death is not being treated as suspicious. he has clothed some of the most famous women, victoria beckham, for example, the list goes on and on, considered by many to be a huge star in the fashion world. and now we're getting a report that he was found dead in his london home. very sad there. and what are the chances of another terror attack on the scale of 9/11? it's a hard question to ask. the number two man at the white house gives his opinion on that. plus, someone is burning down churches in east texas. the latest on this investigation. you're watching msnbc. and i was wondering if i could say hi to the doctor. is he in? he's in copenhagen. oh, well, that's nice. but you can still see him! you just said he was in... copenhagen. come on! that's pretty far. doc, look who's in town. ellen! copenhagen? cool, right? vacation. but still seeing patients. oh.
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vice president joe biden known for his blunt and off-the-cuff remarks is drawing a lot of attention this morning. this time mr. biden declared iraq is one of president obama's, quote, great achievements. talking to larry king, he was trying to make a point about the decrease in violence in iraq. the growing stability and the plan to bring u.s. troops home. >> i'm very optimistic about iraq. i think it's going to be one of the great achievements in this administration. you're going to see 90,000 american troops come marching home by the end of the summer. you're going to see a stable government in iraq that is actually moving toward a representative government. >> during that same interview, the vice president also talked about the war on terror and said another major terror attack in the united states similar to what we saw on 9/11 is unlikely. instead he says he expects smaller attacks like we saw christmas day. an attempted attack on christmas day. joining us, nbc news terrorism
analyst edward cohen. i'd like to play exactly what he said and get your thoughts. let's listen in. >> the idea of there being a massive attack in the united states like 9/11 is unlikely in my view. but if you see what's happening particularly with al qaeda and the arabian peninsula, they have decided to move in the direction of much more small but devastatingly frightening attacks. >> is that really stunning he would make that assessment? others have done so, i believe, or similar. >> yeah, i don't think it's stunning, i just think it's a poor choice of words. politically speaking because this is famous last words. if anything bad happens in the next two, five, 10, 20 years, we all know exactly what the political opponents of the obama administration are going to do. they're going to play this sound bite over and over and over again. and they're going to use it to raise money, and they're going to use it to cause a lot of political damage. but more importantly, there's the question, is a qap, is al qaeda and the arabian peninsula, have they foregone the idea of
large attacks? and we don't really know that is the case. in fact, if we look at the history of aqap, we know that as recently as 2003, a senior aqap operative told interrogators down in guantanamo bay that aqap in yemen was seeking to carry out attacks like blowing up big ben in london. that's not a small attack but a major attack. back in 2004, a u.s. citizen was recruited inside of saudi arabia for attacks, potential attacks, that included assassinating the president, included bringing down airliners fli flying over u.s. airspace to destinations in latin america and elsewhere. these are major, major terrorist plots. so the question is, sure. if you look at the christmas day plot, it looks relatively small compared to 9/11, but are we maybe counting our chickens before they hatch? >> i also thought about the fact, there are reports out, evan, and i'm sure you've seen them about this lone wolf. and you as well as i know, you've had people debate whether al qaeda has the ability to carry out something like we saw
sadly 9/11. >> right. and i think it all comes down to whether or not a group like aqap or shababb in somalia or whatever al qaeda or al qaeda-like faction we're talking about has access to american operatives, people that could go past u.s. borders without generating any kind of alarm. and the reality is, if we look at these groups, that's exactly the kind of constituency, exactly the kind of audience they are recruiting. shabab in somalia, the man from seattle, washington, a former drug dealer who went to somalia and became a major anything. another one from alabama, a young kid from alabama. we don't know who's in yemen. so, i mean, really, it's not so much a question of explosives. it's really a question of access to operatives. these groups can get access to enough people to get past u.s. borders, they'll do whatever they can with those resources, whether it is a small attack or a major catastrophic attack. and we have to be prepared for both possibilities. >> evan, thank you very much. always great perspective and insight from you. i love talking to you.
thank you. >> thank you very much. an arson mystery in texas. a search is under way in east texas right now for a suspect or even suspects behind a series of church fires in the state. investigators say two rural churches near tyler on monday burned down as a result of arson. and that brings the number of deliberately set church fires in the area to at least nine. and that's since january 1st. diane jennings has been reporting on the fires for the dallas morning news. she now joins me on the phone. thanks for joining me. >> thanks for having me. >> tell me a little about the investigation at this point, diane. >> at this point, they did classify the last two fires as arsons. it generally takes 24 to 48 hours before they make that determination. so there haven't been any in the last couple days, but they have declared the last two. so that brings the number to nine plus one more in central texas in which they have determined arson, but they're not necessarily linking it to the ones in east texas. >> diane, thankfully no one's been injured.
i remember covering a series of church fires in texas back in the '90s. it was the similar thing. they were happening late at night. and these fires were breaking out around the area, pretty close to where we're looking now. let me ask you, do they believe that this could be one person or a group of people at this point? >> they're not saying a lot. they think it could be either one or a series -- a group of people. and at some point they're not sure whether it could be possibly copycats or a group of people. they're just not saying much of anything right now. they're trying to keep it fairly quiet so that when they do identify the person, that the person will know some details. >> i understand loss is in the millions. are these churches all denominations? in the '90s it was mostly african-american churches. >> what's unusual, this crosses all lines. there's been baptist, methodist, nondenomination churches, a little bit of everything and doesn't seem to have any rhyme or reason as far as race or prejudice. so this may be a case of one someone who just likes to see
things burn. again, there doesn't seem to be evidence of hate crimes at this point. and also they have noticed forced entry, but most of the churches say whatever -- if there was a burglary, if it's an effort to cover up a burglary, there was little taken. that doesn't seem to be holding much water either. >> hopefully we'll be able to talk to you again as this investigation continues and maybe perhaps they'll get something soon. diane jennings of "the dallas morning news," thank you. >> thanks so much. bye-bye. >> you can always twitter us anything that we're covering today or any other day, quite honestly. let me know what you think just about any topic. we asked folks about the unemployment rate. do you think it's going to go up or down? you know, honestly, a lot of people are believing that at this point, there's no solid factor, no solid way that they can go. some people have actually said that they hope certainly that the market improves, but they've got no indication or real indication that we will see a dip in our unemployment rate. and that will not be good. much more on our twitter and our tweet of the day a little later. and record snowfall and
welcome back. airlines are in a world of hurt today, you might say, after more than 7,000 flights were canceled this week due to the northeast blizzard. that's expect ed to cost the airlines millions of dollars in lost revenue. so, will passengers be hit with new fare increases and extra service charges? keep in mind this week american airlines announced its new fee for pillows and blankets and flying standby. save bucks if you want a blanket. with bestfares.com, tom, we're hearing that new york airports are trying to get some flights in and out. same for washington dulles. the big question is, will people pay more for their tickets as a result of this storm?
what do you think? >> they might. right now we can still find some good deals. i see new york city to cancun, search nights at a four-star hotel for $1,000 a couple, gert get them now while they're hot. that's good till may. this is probably one of the worst storms we've ever had for aviation disruptions. and it's going to cost the airlines, the consumers, the airports and every tom, dick and harry in the hundreds of millions of dollars in either airline vouchers or change fees and also the overtime and manpower that has to be done to reticket hundreds of thousands of passengers. >> with that said -- also, you think about the end of last year, we were really hit hard with storms around christmastime. why, then, would you not have a direct answer as to who that cost will be passed on to? it seems like whenever something like this happens, it is eventually passed on to the consumer. >> it's sort of done that way. last year, if you go over last
christmas storms and you look at the airfares we had in 2009 it was probably one of the cheapest bargain basement deals we had in years, even after that storm. airlines have downsized twice. they are going to have less seats in the air when it comes to summer travel and i expect we'll pay more for summer travel. there is one other thing that will cost the airlines, too. anybody trying to come home right now -- i mean, they're stuck. they're going to have to deal with these delays, flight can r cancellations and stand in line three to four days. those planning to travel right now can't go and the airlines cancel their flight, the flight must be canceled, they doesn't have to take an airline voucher. they can take 100% of that money back in cash. that's what i would do. i wouldn't have an airline voucher. i would take the cash money, then i would have a choice of other airlines down the road when i want to travel. >> all right. we'll see what continued effects this storm is having from the
airlines to everything else. tom, greatly appreciate it. >> thank you. that does it for me in this hour. i'm tamron hall. see you at 2:00 pm eastern time. we're here every day 11:00 and 2:00 eastern. contessa brewer picks up the coverage. what do you have? new breaking details coming into us from iran, tamron. we're watching as police are beat iing up on the 65-year-old wife of the opposition leader. and then the other story we're talking about today, john mayer and the mess he has made of his "playboy" interview. why would he compare his male anatomy to a white supremacist? now getting the privilege of carrying the olympics flag in the openings ceremony tomorrow. we have him first. mark grimmette joins us. ♪ because after you've washed the bills... and paid all the dishes... it's finally me o'clock.
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